Taylor Heise is selected as the first pick in the inaugural draft of the Professional Women’s Hockey League in Minnesota.
If Minnesota considers itself the State of Hockey, the professional women’s hockey team in the Twin Cities will have many players from the local area, such as Taylor Heise.
The player of the year for women’s college hockey in 2022, who was part of the Golden Gophers team and grew up 75 miles away from Minneapolis, has decided to stay in her hometown. This decision came after the Minnesota franchise, which is yet to be named, chose Heise as their first pick in the draft of the newly established league on Monday.
“I cannot reword”
“I cannot reword.”
During the PWHL’s 15-round draft in Toronto, Heise was called out by tennis legend Billie Jean King, who is a member of the league’s board of directors.
Heise joins a franchise whose general manager, former U.S. national team player Natalie Darwitz, is from Minnesota, and who had already signed fellow Minnesotans Kelly Pannek and Lee Stecklein in the pre-draft free agency period.
Darwitz then dipped into the state’s deep depth of talent by using seven of 15 picks on Minnesotans. She used her final pick, 85th overall, to draft Sydney Brodt, who played for the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation Minnesota Whitecaps and is related to Whitecaps founder Jack Brodt.
Jocelyne Larocque, an experienced Canadian defender, was chosen as the second pick by Toronto, while Alina Muller, a Swiss center, was selected third by Boston. Among the first three rounds, Muller was the sole non-North American player to be picked. After attending Northeastern for her college career, Muller will now have the opportunity to remain in Boston.
The fourth selection in the draft was used by New York to pick Ella Shelton, a defender from the Canadian national team. Ottawa chose Savannah Harmon, a defender from the U.S. national team, as their fifth pick. Montreal completed the first round by selecting Erin Ambrose, a defender from Team Canada.
Pascal Daoust, the general manager of New York, sought input from his three players – Abby Roque, Alex Carpenter, and Micah Zandee-Hart – regarding the draft selection. Based on their feedback, Daoust chose Shelton and Canadian defender Jaime Bourbonnais.
“I inquired, ‘With whom would you prefer to play?’ and, more importantly, ‘Against whom do you not wish to play?'” Daoust explained. “My intention was to create something.”
Harmon is from Illinois, but eager to head to Ottawa, where she represented the U.S. in a Rivalry Series game against Canada.
Harmon expressed his gratitude for having the opportunity to participate in a game representing the United States against Team Canada. He described the atmosphere, rink, and fans as extraordinary.
A total of 47 Canadians and 28 Americans were selected, along with two players who have citizenship in both countries, showcasing the talent from the sport’s dominant nations. Additionally, five players from the rapidly improving Czech Republic national team were chosen.
In January, a league will commence featuring the best female players from Sweden, Finland, France, and Germany who were drafted to participate.
The PWHL is financially backed by Los Angeles Dodgers owner Mark Walter, who in late June bought out the rival seven-team PHF to clear the way for one North American women’s league. Walter was brought in by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association as part of its membership’s vision to establish a league with a sustainable economic model and paid fair wages.
The PWHPA, consisting mostly of players from the U.S. and Canadian national teams, had 25 players chosen in the draft, and an additional 18 players were already signed through free agency. The PHF saw 32 former players being selected, with Czech Republic defender Dominika Laskova being the top pick for Montreal at 19th overall.
In Boston, GM Danielle Marmer expected Heise to be chosen as the first pick and was happy to have Muller available at the third pick. Boston then decided to select Sophie Jacques from Ohio State, who won this season’s Patty Kazmaier Award for being the top female player in college hockey.
The two join a roster that already features established U.S. national team players Hilary Knight, Megan Keller and Aerin Frankel, who were Boston’s three pre-draft free agent signings.
“We were seeking a young and dynamic individual who could excel in the midfield. Muller’s impressive career thus far made her a perfect fit,” Marmer commented. “Our focus in this draft was to prioritize goal scorers, particularly those with a natural talent for scoring. I believe we successfully accomplished that goal.”
Heise is coming off her fifth and final year at the University of Minnesota, where she was a first-team all-American after leading the NCAA in goals with 30. She was second in points with 67, and tied for third in assists with 37, in 39 games for the Gophers.
At the global stage, Heise, who stands at 5 feet 9 inches and weighs 160 pounds, was awarded the title of best forward and tournament MVP at the 2022 world championships. Heise outperformed all other players by scoring seven goals and earning a total of 18 points.
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